House Collapse And Demolition


In the late 1990s, a young couple planned to undertake building works on a property in Terrigal;  the works involved the construction of a timber 'pole frame' house on a steeply sloping hillside in an area where there had been previous slope instability issues.  The couple sought professional advice from a small consulting geotechnical practice before embarking on the building works.  The advice provided included identification of the slope stability issues and recommendations as to the necessary slope stabilisation measures.

Subsequently, the slope stabilisation measures were implemented as recommended by the geotechnical consultant and the pole frame house constructed.  A month after the house was completed, a serious surficial soil landslide took place on the land which severely damaged the house.  As a consequence, the Council issued a 'demolition order' and the young couple then proceeded to demolish the house themselves as they had no further financial resources.

In this very sad case, SCE was engaged by the PI insurer for the geotechnical consultant to provide advice on causation and the potential liability.  As a consequence of SCE's advice, which was adverse to the geotechnical consultant, the insurer decided to settle the claim promptly by making an appropriate payment to the couple.